When I heard sometime in mid-March that 'folk surrealist' Devendra Banhart would be performing in Israel in early July, I got a new excuse to push off my "vacation" another few months.
First, the "vacation." I have about 40 hours of scheduled shifts and 128 hours of freedom every week, never the same time or day as the last, but I keep telling myself I should take a vacation. Go visit my father in Detroit, and friends in Montreal, and family in California, and mountains in Colorado and British Columbia, and Amsterdam, and the alps, and France, and India. Big plans, but every month I push them off. I haven't left Israel in 12 months.
Life is good. I live in a virtual war zone, war zone because it is, virtual because I only know about it from the news I write and read, but life for me has been good. All superstitions on.
Though I knew about Devendra, and used it as an excuse for how much I didn't need to leave this country, I didn't try to buy a ticket until the morning of the show. It's how I bought my ticket for Roger Waters, less-favored lead singer of the band that, with only cliche applicable, changed my life when I heard it for the first time at 14. I knew I wanted to see Roger Waters, I knew I didn't want to pay 375 shekels for the ticket, yet I knew that I would get into the show.
For Roger Waters, it worked. I called Elisha at 10 am and asked him to go get me a ticket, I'd pay him back, there were only 50 left. He called me at 12:30, said he bought me a ticket, and there were now four left.
It didn't work so well with Devendra. Though I like his muisc, Devendra didn't figure on my list of cliche-spawning life-changing musicians, so when I called the club and was told the show was sold out, I wasn't worried, even thought at least two people had told me the day before that I should not miss this show.
I was supposed to work until 11 p.m. anyway, so I figured I'd get to the show after work, an hour after opening, and convince the bouncers to let me in for free or cheap to see the end.
When I got to the club, at 11:15, there were only a few stragglers outside, including my roommate and her friend. Her friend had called me half an hour before telling me he had an extra ticket for 100 instead of 150 shekels, and then called again 20 minutes later to tell me the guy who was supposed to bring him the ticket had either bailed or gone inside. No ticket.
The friend, Nitzan, handed me his beer, and the roommate, Rona, reminded me I should have gotten a ticket two days before.
Then Devendra and his crew walked by. Devendra held up by his crew. Nitzan called out something, in what sounded like English, to Devendra. He turned back, and then walked through the first gate into the venue.
"I'm going to get a ticket from Devendra," I said, and walked up to the gate.
"Hey Devendra," I called out. He turned around and came over to the gate. "I don't have a ticket to the show, but I really want to come in," I said. "Any chance?"
"What's your name?" He asked, from the other side of the gate.
"Aliyana Traison," I said.
"I'll see what I can do," he said, and turned back toward the venue.
I started to turn to Nitzan and Rona, who came over to the gate, and barely had time to think 'this is not going to work', when I heard someone say, "Aliyana."
I looked up. Devendra was standing about 30 feet away from me, giving me a double thumbs-up.
"You're in," someone said.
"Aliyana Traison," the bouncer said.
"Follow Devendra," Rona and Nitzan said.
I waltzed through the gate, up the ramp, and hit two new bouncers, who had never heard of Aliyana Traison, or Devendra Banhart, and sent me to the guest list brigade. The guest list brigade, feverishly looking up and down their Hebrew lists while I pretended not to speak Hebrew, told me I wasn't on the list. Of course I wasn't, I said, call Devendra. Who is Devendra, they asked.
We sorted it out. The woman called Devendra and asked if someone named Aliyana Traison was on his list, he said Of course, and the two new bouncers who were really just puppies apologized to me and cleared the way.
VIP, but that's where my relationship with Devendra ended. During the show he looked right in my direction and told everyone he wanted to introduce the person he loved most in the world, his dad, who was standing right behind me, holding a beer and thoroughly enjoying Devendra, who was barely able to stand at this point.
His music is 'surreal,' it's 'folk,' it's lyrical tongue twisters with jazzy undertones, and he is charming, a contemporary Jim Morrison. He sometimes sacrifices his musical genius for charisma on stage, but he's got both, and more than that, he really appreciates how much he is appreciated.